PACBI Statement

Do No Harm! Palestinian Call for Ethical Tourism/Pilgrimage

Palestinian civil society calls on all international visitors, especially pilgrims, and people of conscience to do no harm to our nonviolent struggle for our rights under international law by respecting our ethical tourism guidelines.

Based on the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) affirmation in its statutes that it fundamentally aims at “the promotion and development of tourism with a view to contributing to [...] universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”;

Given the escalating grave Israeli violations of Palestinian and Syrian rights and freedoms, most notably in the continued illegal and brutal siege on Gaza, which will be uninhabitable by 2020, according to a UN report; forcible displacement of Palestinians from their homes; entrenched apartheid through the adoption of the “Jewish nation-state law”, which embeds institutionalized racial discrimination in Israel’s basic laws, in addition to the already existing more than 65 discriminatory laws; systemic violations of Syrians’ basic rights in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, including plans to expand settlements in the region tenfold; and ongoing refusal to respect the rights of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in international law;

Taking into account that Israel's tourism sector “benefits from and drives Israel's unlawful policies and practices in the occupied West Bank, including the confiscation of Palestinian land and exploitation of Palestinian natural resources, unlawful excavations at archeological sites, the obstruction of the Palestinian economy, and the transfer of the protected Palestinian population,” denying Palestinians their right to sovereignty over their own heritage and culture;

Acknowledging that Israel illegally exploits the tourism industry in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to enrich itself while simultaneously disrupting indigenous tourism initiatives and blocking Syrians' rights to self-determination and control over their natural wealth, heritage and culture;

Given Israel’s continuous sabotage and/or theft of Christian, Islamic and even Jewish Palestinian heritage sites and properties in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in Jerusalem, including attacks on and harassment of Christian and Muslim faith leaders, in addition to its direct responsibility for the rampant vandalism of Palestinian churches and mosques through its systematic and deliberate failure to identify, indict or penalize those responsible;  

In the light of the fact that Israel employs tourism to whitewash its war crimes and grave violations of Palestinian and Syrian human rights, as part of its “Brand Israel,” “Tel Aviv Global” [1] and pinkwashing campaigns which cynically promote LGBTQIA tourism, and which are condemned by leading Palestinian queer groups;

Based on the moral obligation of all visitors, especially pilgrims, to do no harm, and on the 2009 Kairos Palestine call from Christian Palestinian leaders, which considered “boycott and disinvestment as tools of non violence for justice, peace and security for all”;

And inspired by the global struggle against apartheid in South Africa, which included calls for boycotting tourism there,

Palestinian civil society calls on all international visitors [2], especially pilgrims, and people of conscience to do no harm to our nonviolent struggle for our rights under international law by respecting the following guidelines:

  • Do not visit historical/religious/touristic sites [3] in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and its Old City, and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights that are illegally run by the Israeli occupation authorities, especially those in illegal settlements, such as the “City of David”, or that are promoted as “Israeli” sites, such as the “Tower of David”. [See partial list]

  • Avoid all products and services provided by Israeli or international companies that are complicit [4] in Israel’s human rights violations -- including but not limited to Israeli airlines, hotels and other accommodation services, travel agencies, tour guiding services, bus companies and restaurants -- and substitute those with Palestinian, Syrian or non-complicit providers.

  • Pressure online tourism companies, such as, Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor, that are implicated in Israel’s violations of international law, to stop operating in or otherwise promoting visits to illegal Israeli settlements, “contributing to their existence and expansion”, and to stop listing “Palestinian homes unlawfully taken under Israel's ‘Absentees' Property Law’.”

  • Boycott all LGBTQIA+ events organized by or in cooperation with the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions [5], and refrain from using any LGBTQIA services or utilities like beaches, bars, hotels or clubs, provided by operators and companies that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations.

  • Avoid any travel itinerary to present-day Israel or illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territory that include any links to the Israeli government or complicit Israeli corporations or institutions.

  • Increase visits in solidarity with the Palestinian and Syrian people as well as independent fact-finding missions that have no institutional link of any sort to the Israeli government, complicit institutions or lobby groups.

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)


[1] This is an initiative by the Tel Aviv municipality to whitewash the apartheid reality of the city.

[2] Not applicable to the Arab world, where special, context-sensitive guidelines apply.

[3] Where entry fees are collected by the occupation authorities. These sites include: 1) Archeological sites, such as Qumran and Herodium; 2) parks and nature reserves under Israeli control which include the Dead Sea; 3) leisure activities, usually by private companies, such as wine tasting in illegal settlements; and 4) Military-related tourism such as "training camps" or "shooting camps". See partial list.

[4] Any Israeli institution, company or corporation that does not publicly recognize the UN-stipulate rights of the Palestinian people and does not refrain from involvement in Israeli projects that violate Palestinian human rights is considered complicit and must be shunned.

[5] Most of such LGBTQIA+ propaganda events take place in Tel Aviv as part of “Tel Aviv Global.”

*Updated (8 April 2019): The guidelines were revised to include specific mention of the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights and to clarify what is meant by Israeli control of tourist sites in occupied territory.


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